Aberlour A’bunadh Batch 53 (Speyside) – 59.5% ABV – $99.95 (LCBO)
Nose: Nosed neat this is a dram that will come at you hard. Not purely alcohol, but big, fruity, sherry notes. Big notes of cherry, plum and raisins complemented by a lively honey and toffee sweetness. Recommend taking down the ABV with a bit of water to let some of the subtler notes come through. With water the spice on the nose really comes alive, with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice making an appearance. Hints of chocolate and candied ginger also make an appearance.
Palate: Oof, this is a banger! The palate doesn’t contain a lot of mystery after the experience of the nose. Incredibly rich and creamy, slightly oily and viscous, it delivers fully on the nose’s sherry bomb promise. The cherry from the nose is present, but less pronounced, allowing those darker, dried-fruit notes to really come to the fore. Raisins, figs, plums and pear really steal the show. The honey/molasses sweetness and light chocolate notes remain, but don’t overwhelm or hold a candle to the fruit. Through the development the spicy background notes come to the fore, with the cinnamon and nutmeg carrying you through the fading sweetness of the arrival.
Finish: Long, lingering and satisfying. The spicy and dried fruit notes hang in there for as long as you care to savour them without the blanket sweetness of the arrival. Truly lovely and soul-warming.
A’bunadh – Of the Origins – This was the first true sherry bomb whisky I tried, the original if you will, and it remains my favorite. It still holds true that you have to be in the right mood to truly enjoy this, but that’s true of most scotches. If you wanted a dram that was light and refreshing you would never reach for this bottle. However, when I wanted something that is big, bold, warming, and a little sweet, this is often my first choice.
At roughly 60% abv this isn’t for the faint of heart neat, but it is very drinkable that way, if you choose. For it’s strength and the fact that it’s a non-age statement whisky, that’s no mean feat.
I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Aberlour distillery in general, and it’s because they produce whiskies like this. Do I enjoy some of their releases more than others? Of course. That said, I can’t think of many instances (if any) where I’ve picked up one of their bottles and been horribly disappointed. Consistency and value for money means a fair bit to me as a consumer and Aberlour produces that in spades. Kudos to them for their production practices in general and for making A’bunadh!